July 2015


The AQU Catalunya Act

Jordi Escolar Bañeres - Legal advisor to AQU Catalunya

Llei AQU CatalunyaAQU Catalunya was established in 1996 under Decree 355/1996, 29 October, which set up the Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari a Catalunya (Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency) under a consortium agreement. This legislation was amended as a consequence of Law 1/2003, 19 February, on the Universities in Catalonia in order for the Agency to take on a series of new functions.

The purpose of legislation (Law 15/2015, 8 July) just recently passed by the Catalan Parliament (the AQU Catalunya Act) is to strengthen the Agency through the updating of its functions, providing it a more flexible structure and enhancing its compliance with European standards as regards its independence nature as an agency.

The main differences in the new legislation compared to the regulations governing AQU Catalunya under Law 1/2003, 19 February, on the Universities in Catalonia, are as follows:

Objectives, functions, principles of action and values

  • The new Law sets out the details of the Agency's seven objectives that underpin the model for external quality assurance in higher education both within the Agency and in its activities and gives impetus in the sphere of internationalisation and support for the university system as a whole in Catalonia.
  • It also updates and establishes new functions for the Agency in, for example, auditing and review and places both the international aspects of its activities and knowledge generation for decision-making on a firmer footing. More specifically, it covers the quality assurance, certification, auditing and accreditation of quality in the universities and other higher education institutions, together with the review and assessment of research by university faculty staff. It can analyse the trends in higher education and its delivery and development at national and international level; advise the universities on appropriate measures for the promotion of excellence in the services they provide; and produce reports on deficits detected in quality.
  • It establishes the Agency's principles of action: the principles of scientific and technical competency, legality, legal certainty and independence, in accordance with international standards and guidelines for quality assurance.
  • It sets down the values of the Agency: a European approach; cooperation with universities; cooperation with other QA agencies; students participation; inclusion of demands made by society; transparency; internal and external quality assurance; innovation; networking; expertise; efficiency and effectiveness.

Governing bodies

  • The Board of Management's name has been changed to the Governing Board (from Consell de Direcció to Consell de Govern), which can also act as a Standing, or Permanent, Committee, representation on which has also been increased so as to now include the rectors from all Catalan public and private universities, two student representatives from CEUCAT and two labour organisation representatives.
  • It also establishes a system for the appointment of the Agency's director by way of an open and competitive process for a four-year period, and who may be reappointed once.


  • Under the legislation, the CLiC committee, which deals with tenure-track and collaborating teaching staff, has been merged with the Research Assessment Committee (CAR), making it possible for both public service and contract faculty staff with three research quality premiums (period of external assessment of research activity) to now become members.
  • An Appeals Committee has been established to deal with appeals filed against the decisions of any review panel in the Agency's QA procedures, consisting of a chairperson, who must be one of the academic members on the Governing Board, and at least two members.
  • A Committee with an advisory capacity in international strategies and procedures has been established, consisting of both Spanish and international academics, together with student representatives and labour organisation representatives.
  • It gives the Governing Board the power to set up, modify and abolish both permanent and non-permanent committees for the purposes of review, accreditation and certification.


  • It regulates the Agency's periodic international external review undertaken for enhancement and external recognition purposes.
  • It lays down the guiding principles for the external relations of AQU Catalunya with other QA agencies and bodies as regards the Agency's objectives, functions and institutional relations.
  • It establishes the contract-programme as the means of coordination between the Agency and Government, with the aim of underpinning the continuity of the Agency's activities.

AQU Catalunya's Governing Board has three months from the time of entry into force of the Act to adapt its Board of Management according to the reconstitution of its membership. It will then have six months to constitute and adapt the Agency's statutes pursuant to the new legislation. 


Generalitat de Catalunya

c/. dels Vergós, 36-42. 08017 Barcelona. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2015 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008